When I first heard Coldplay it was sometime in 2005 (I know, late to the party), when Sn and I were both studying feverishly for the A levels. It was good, uncomplicated, sincere music that, as a plus point, was great for doing physics homework. Clocks was my immediate favorite; there was something incandescently happy about it, ethereal almost. My attitude towards the song has changed since then, of course, and it’s never going to be like the first time I heard it. But I remember Sn telling me how she’d listened to it while flying over Greenland in the middle of the night: magical.
At first I disliked tremendously the idea of seeing them live; seeing any musician live, in fact. Their music was personal and the way I felt when I listened to them was even more so, I argued. And who the hell wanted to be squashed up against a million other people, all singing along, when all I wanted to do was listen to my favorite songs in peace?
More importantly, I didn’t like the idea of discovering, live, that the bands I liked sucked outside the recording studio. That their magic was carefully rehearsed and not reproducible.
And then someone linked me to a video of Coldplay performing live.
They sounded just as earnest, just as good, and just as happy on stage as they did in my ears. Which was when I decided I had to watch them live.
Here’s my one major peeve of the evening: that two completely mediocre bands spent two hours opening for a fantastic main act that didn’t even last 2 hours themselves. Given Chris Martin’s manic energy on stage, I can understand Coldplay leaving after 2 hours. (“If we scream for them to encore,” yelled the young girl beside me, “will you scream with us?!” “We already are!” I assured her.) But those bands, my god. If their intent was to whet our appetites instead of, you know, actually entertain us, they succeeded extremely well.
What a show. The Pavilion is suitably impressive and by 9 pm, when Coldplay actually came on stage, every square inch of it was packed. We were all given these wristbands that lit up in synchronized fashion with the music (which was impressive) and when the first few notes began playing, the audience was a sea of deliriously happy spots of light.
I think the whole Mylo Xyloto aesthetic really suits Coldplay, even while I admit I loved Viva La Vida more. There’s a certain independent thinking that the band has going on that’s also reflected in their music, and at the same time they’re just a bunch of guys madly in love with the idea of making music that people can relate to and just feel, and feel good about, too.
They played nearly all the Mylo Xyloto songs, of course: Hurts Like Heaven, Up In Flames, Paradise, Charlie Brown, Us Against the World, Princess of China (where a slightly freaky video of Rihanna in black and white was cut with a live video of Chris Martin; strange), Every Tear is a Waterfall.
And they interspersed these songs with a predictable but still excellent selection of their old songs — Yellow, of course, and Clocks, Warning Signs, God Put A Smile Upon Your Face, Violet Hill, Lovers in Japan, The Scientist. I tried making notes on my phone, but a) was too busy actually listening or b) taking photos.
I was especially excited about God Put A Smile Upon Your Face: when I’d seen the Madrid concert, they’d taken a song that was a little deeper and darker than usual, with a bit more rock, and given it… glam is the only word I can come up with now. Complete with a drums and guitar solos and Chris Martin enthusiastically damaging what must have been an expensive guitar. God, what a song played live. If I thought it was dignified to be jumping around screaming like my neighbors I would’ve done it, but I was at least ten years older than they were (dammit). I did shriek fangirlishly to Gsj about the song, although I’m not sure how much of it he heard.
Why did I ever think listening to the music I loved in a crowd was going to reduce its emotional impact? As a matter of fact it was fantastic to hear everyone else singing along with the lyrics and generally having an awesome time. It was a series of shared “aww” moments, if you will. The last time I heard something like that was two years ago, at the Rahman concert in Houston.
And this was one of the best parts of the concert, the interactivity. Martin seems like an actual, genuinely nice guy. I’m not sure what was up with Guy Berryman, who seemed completely out of it, but Martin was relentlessly full of energy. He got the audience to sing with him on multiple occasions, ran up and down the stage, leaped into the air between verses, and generally looked like he was having the time of his life.
I can’t think of much better experiences than watching performers enjoying the hell out of performing.
At the end of the night, Martin thanked the audience (for about the zillionth time) for “giving us the best job in the world”.
You’re welcome, Chris. Very welcome indeed.